1773 – Today in This Day in Baptist History Past, we again celebrate the life of our entry of March 9, Edmund Botsford, who was ordained into the gospel ministry by Rev. Oliver Hart, Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. on this date. The event took place in Savannah, Georgia and the sermon text was from I Tim. 4:16 – Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. In the area of Georgia where Mr. Botsford ministered the people were a mixed multitude of emigrants from many different places; most of whom were destitute of any type of religion. Those who were religious were zealous Lutherans and other styles of church men who were violently opposed to Baptists. On one occasion he preached at the courthouse and he seemed to have the hearer’s attention when someone yelled “the rum is come.” The crowd diminished and by the time the dust settled, so to speak, the crowd had thinned and many of his hearers were intoxicated and fighting. An old gentlemen came up to him, took his horse by the bridle, bragged on his sermon and invited him to drink with him, which Botsford declined. But in that the old man invited him to come and preach, and it was accepted, Botsford went and had great success when the old man’s sons and wife received Christ. During the last fifteen years of his life Botsford suffered from a nerve disease in one side of his head that would actually cause him to go into a cataclysmic state sometimes upward of a minute and a half, and then when he would come out of it he would assume preaching. The audience was aware of an unusual presence of God in his life.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 104.
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First Black Baptists in Savannah, GA
1788 – Andrew Bryan was ordained into the gospel ministry. Bryan pastored the first Negro Baptist church in Georgia. The church was founded by Abraham Marshall whose father, Daniel, founded the first Baptist church in Georgia. Abraham baptized forty-five black believers and along with others who had been previously baptized he formed them into a church and called and ordained Andrew Bryan as pastor. Bryan had been a convert of George Leile who had been a slave of Deacon Henry Sharp of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia. When Deacon Sharp detected that his servant was called of God, he emancipated the stirring preacher so that he could give himself totally to the preaching of the gospel. Ordained in 1775, Leile labored in and around Savannah before leaving in 1775 for Jamaica in 1779. Thus Leile predated the service of William Carey, “the founder of modern Baptist missions.” Upon Bryan’s death a resolution was passed by the Savannah Baptist Association in 1812. It read in part: “the Association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom through his instrumentality, were brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus…”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 26-28.
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Marshall saw (George) Washington several times.
December 08, 1856 – Rev. Andrew Marshall died. It was believed that he was over 100 years old having been born in South Carolina in 1755. However, no one took time to record the date of birth of the little “slave-born.” There was an immense procession about a mile long, with 58 carriages that made its way from the church to the cemetery on Dec. 14, 1856. At the time of his death Marshall was pastor of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. They had divided from the Second Baptist when it reached 3,000 members. Marshall had been the Senior pastor there too. First African Baptist had just purchased the First Baptist and he had gone north to raise funds and had reached Richmond on his return and could go no further when he became ill. They say that he had baptized over 4,000 souls during the course of his ministry. His reputation as a pulpiteer with his deep, sonorous, and tender voice with the pathos was unsurpassed. Throngs greeted him, both black and white wherever he went. What an end for the little slave boy whose first “master” was John Houston, the colonial governor of Georgia. The governor died when Andrew was about 21 years old. Freedom had been bequeathed to him at the death of Houston, for the slave had at one time saved his master’s life. The executors failed, however, to carry out the will, and Andrew was again sold…becoming the property of Judge Clay. During that time he went North with the Judge who had become a Senator. Marshall saw Washington several times. When Pres. Washington came to Savannah he was appointed the President’s “body servant” and acted as his carriage driver. Andrew purchased his freedom about the time that he was converted and in 1785 he was baptized, and was licensed to preach.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 512-13.
“I resolved never to ask what I preferred…but what God commanded”
November 17, 1843 – Dr. J.G. and Juliette Pattison Binney, sailed for Burma. Dr. Binney’s father, though saved, could not understand the “necessity of seeking a more extended field of usefulness.” However Binney had written early in life, “When I commenced my Christian course I resolved never to ask what I preferred…but what God commanded, and His will should control my steps.” After 140 days on the sea, they arrived in Burma on April 6, 1844. In time Mrs. Binney’s health began to fail. She was forced to return to America in April of 1850, and a letter to her brother give insights into her heart and life: “…I have entered on my 40th year…I did not expect to live many years when I came to this country…My husband said yesterday that upon leaving his church in Savannah, he could have known that he would only live long enough to accomplish what the Lord has permitted us to do here, he would not have hesitated a moment. Do not be alarmed. Do not be alarmed, lest if I grow worse, I should go home. We have not the most distant idea of ever seeing your dear face again, though I would give anything short of sacrificing conscientious convictions to do so.” Her health amended in the States, and the Binney’s boarded a vessel for Burma. But when her health deteriorated again in 1863, she was forced to return to America the second time. Dr. Binney’s health failed as well, and he returned home too. But when their health allowed the couple sailed again for Burma. Upon the death of her dear husband at sea on Nov. 26, 1877, Juliette Binney continued on to Rangoon, where she spent her last years in service to the Savior. She passed away on May 18, 1884, but had “taught her Bible-class…on the day before the night in which she went to her heavenly home at 75.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/, pp. 478-80.